- Former Notre Dame All-American and NBA free-agent forward Troy Murphy signed with the Los Angeles Lakers, the team announced Sunday ... Murphy signed a one-year deal for the veteran's minimum, worth $1,352,181, which is a set figure by the league for all players with 10 or more years experience, according to a league source ... Murphy, 31, averaged 2.6 points and 2.2 rebounds and 10.5 minutes in 17 games with the Boston Celtics last season, finishing the year in Boston after beginning the season with the New Jersey Nets ... the 6-foot-11, 245-pound left-hander has career averages of 11.6 points and 8.3 rebounds while shooting 38.9 percent on 3-pointers in 10 seasons in the league ... the Lakers brought Murphy in for a private workout on Wednesday where he caught new coach Mike Brown's attention ... Murphy was a two-time consensus All-American and two-time BIG EAST Player of the Year in 1999 and 2000. - The FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) All-Independent team included Notre Dame's Cierre Wood, Michael Floyd, Tyler Eifert, Zack Martin, Trevor Robinson, Aaron Lynch, Louis Nix III, Manti Te'o, Robert Blanton, Harrison Smith, David Ruffer and George Atkinson III as first-team selections ... Floyd was named the offensive player of the year, Te'o the defensive player of the year and Atkinson the special teams player of the year ... honorable mention notice went to Tommy Rees, Darius Fleming, Jamoris Slaughter, Jonas Gray, Taylor Dever and Gary Gray ... a national media panel representing the coverage markets of the independent institutions made the selections. - The Irish football team is in full swing with its bowl prep, with a walk-thru this morning, practice from 2:30-4:15 p.m. today, meetings tomorrow morning, then a final practice from noon-1:45 p.m. Tuesday ... the players can travel home late Tuesday and will reconvene in Orlando by 2:30 p.m. Saturday. - The Lincoln Journal Star yesterday reported that former Irish football center Rick Kaczenski (he started at center for Notre Dame in 1995-96-97), currently in his fifth year as defensive line coach at Iowa, is a top candidate for the defensive line coaching slot at Nebraska.
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Though most people know him as a star running back at Notre Dame and a former all-Pro with the Pittsburgh Steelers, last week, Jerome Bettis was making an impression on Capitol Hill. "The Bus" was in Washington, D.C. to speak to lawmakers and officials about setting mercury emission limits in power plants that burn coal and oil. Bettis urged legislators to support the Environmental Protection Agency's Air Toxics Rule to mandate nationwide reductions of dangerous emissions of mercury, lead, arsenic, and acid gases. "My goal is for the members of Congress we meet with to understand just how important these rules are to people's health, and that they need to be implemented as soon as possible," he said. According to the American Lung Association, more than 175 million people live in the presence of unhealthy levels of air pollution. For the former Irish running back, it is also a personal matter. He was diagnosed with asthma at age 15. Bettis was joined in Washington by Clean Air Council analyst Katie Feeney, who explained the dangers that unsafe levels of mercury can have for women during pregnancy. Despite spending some time lobbying in our nation's capital, Bettis has no plans to pursue a career in politics. "For me, the problem is, with football, it's easy: You win or you lose. You give 110 percent every time, and that's it. But in politics, sometimes there's not a clear winner and not a clear loser," he said. "There's a lot of gray. So I've lived in a world of black and white, and politics, unfortunately, there's a give and a take... It's just an interesting dynamic that I'm not used to." Today, Bettis splits time between Atlanta and Pittsburgh, and is a businessman and commentator with NBC Sports. He has also established the Bus Stops Here Foundation, an organization that helps troubled and underprivileged children. - Josh Flynt ('11)
With Green Bay finally losing and Indianapolis finally winning, Week 15 was a wild one in the NFL. It was a busy week for former Notre Dame players too. Here's a look at how they performed: Darrin Walls ('10) had one tackle and one pass deflection in Atlanta's 41-14 win over Jacksonville on Thursday night. In other defensive news, New York's Justin Tuck ('05) had seven tackles, including four solo tackles, but the Giants lost to Washington, 23-10. New England ended Denver's six-game winning streak, 41-23. Sergio Brown ('10) made six tackles, including five solo stops. Former secondary teammate Kyle McCarthy ('09) had two tackles for the Broncos. Maurice Stovall ('06) made two special teams tackles for Detroit in a 28-27 win over Oakland. Philadelphia defeated New York, 45-19. Derek Landri ('06) registered two tackles for the Eagles. Tom Zbikowski ('07) had one tackle for Baltimore in a 34-14 loss at San Diego. Seattle kept its slim playoff hopes alive with a 38-14 win in Chicago. Golden Tate caught four passes for 61 yards and carried the ball once for two yards. Anthony Fasano ('06) made two receptions for 28 yards, including a 22-yard touchdown early in the second quarter of Miami's 30-23 win in Buffalo. Ryan Grant ('05) had 12 rushes for 66 yards and three catches for 35 yards, but the Packers' run of perfection ended in Kansas City, 19-14. It was the team's first loss in 364 days. Kyle Rudolph had two catches for 15 yards in Minnesota's 42-20 loss against New Orleans. San Francisco hosts Pittsburgh in tonight's Monday Night Football contest. - Josh Flynt ('11)
On Sunday night, much to my surprise, I was greeted with an early Christmas present, courtesy of #5 - junior linebacker Manti Te'o. Though Twitter has been around since 2006, I think it's safe to say that 2011 was the Year of the Tweet. No longer are we reliant upon newspapers, radio stations and television broadcasts to break the news for us. Instead, Twitter is the place we can go to find out...just about anything. So naturally, it was on Twitter that I learned the big news from the Lott IMPACT Trophy presentation. No, not that the "Hawaiian Hitman" had won the great award, but better news, that Te'o would be returning for his senior season. Perhaps we shouldn't make a big deal out of this. Aren't student-athletes supposed to spend four years at their undergraduate institution before walking across the stage, degree in hand? After all, most will be "going pro in something other than sports." Let's not kid ourselves. We know the system well enough to understand that for many collegiate athletes in football and basketball, the NCAA is just a steppingstone to the next level. In a time when it may be easy to lose faith in college athletics, Te'o's decision is a reminder that not all is gone. From a football perspective, Te'o probably could have moved on from Notre Dame, been drafted in April and contributed immediately in the NFL. But for the 6-foot-2 junior from Laie, Hawaii, life is about more than football. "The NFL is my goal. My dream is to have an impact on the most people as possible," Te'o explained on Sunday. Te'o has long demonstrated his commitment to faith, service and the community. He was recently named to the 2011 Capital One Academic All- America squad (second team) and was also selected as this season's Rockne Student-Athlete at the team's football awards show last Friday. Given what he has already accomplished on the gridiron, Te'o will go down as one of the all-time greats to wear the blue and gold. But more than that, Manti Te'o will be remembered as a Notre Dame man and a true Irish legend for his decision to delay the NFL and finish what he started in South Bend. He recognizes that Notre Dame is more than a "football school." He understands that being a student-athlete is about more than athletics. And he realizes that football is what he does, not the defining factor in the person he is and wants to be. For those reasons, Te'o should be commended and Irish nation should celebrate his return for 2012. - Josh Flynt ('11)
South Bend Tribune - It wasn't until the morning after, when the tears of exhilaration started flowing one more time and Brian Te'o's cell phone started blowing up all over again, that it hit him. No one in the Te'o family had actually called Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly directly late Sunday night to deliver the momentous news that Te'o's son, junior linebacker Manti Te'o, was returning to school for his senior year. Half a continent away and perhaps intuitively, Kelly sensed that this was the way Te'o's decision, about a dip in the NFL Draft pool a year early, was headed in the past few weeks. A chain of calls through the sports information staff found Kelly elated but hardly stunned. Word that Te'o and best friend since childhood, Irish wide receiver Robby Toma, had been apartment-hunting spilled out to the more majestic offices in the Guglielmino Athletics Complex, but that was all about logistics and contingencies, not about what was in Te'o's heart. Which is exactly where the decision ended up being made. "I'm so proud of him," said Brian Te'o, who watched his son make an 11th-hour switch from USC to Notre Dame based on a leap of faith -- a leap of, really, blind faith -- in February 2009. "In the end, this decision had nothing to do with football, and that's the greatest thing. It's not about football. It's about being guided to a place that's special." And coming full circle and redefining just who Manti Te'o is. The Laie, Hawaii, product made the decision in Newport Beach, Calif., of all places, blurting out his intentions in the spur of the moment to his parents, a Fox Sports regional TV audience and the Twitter universe at an awards banquet for the Lott Impact Trophy, for which Manti was one of four finalists. This, after Brian Te'o, citing all the financial evidence and professional advice Manti asked his parents to garner, had recommended his son go pro only hours earlier. This after his 19-year-old sister, BrieAnne, days before, told Manti in a phone call to follow his dream. "She was at a bus stop after class heading home," Brian related, "and Manti called her and asked, 'What should I do?' "She said, 'Wasn't it your dream to go to the NFL? Then go.' And that got Manti thinking. "But when he got to Newport Beach this weekend, and he talked to my wife and I, he said, 'The NFL is my goal, not my dream. My dream is to have an impact on people. I think I'm doing that, and I'm not finished yet. All the trips to the pediatric hospital, to the Homeless Center. I'm not done yet."
- Notre Dame has launched a new web site highlighting the Notre Dame Summer Sports Camps as part of its Youth Sports and Community Programs initiative ... the site (camps.nd.edu) features online registration and a welcome note from Irish head coaches ... the site also includes a blog, the ability to order camp photos and sign up for a camp newsletter, plus links to camp material posted on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter ... Notre Dame currently offers men's camps for baseball, basketball, football, golf, hockey, lacrosse and soccer; women's camps for basketball, golf, lacrosse, soccer, softball and volleyball; plus co-ed camps in diving, fencing, swimming, tennis and track and field/cross country. - Former Notre Dame men's lacrosse All-America goalie Scott Rodgers has been named to the U.S. National Team roster for January's Champion Challenge ... the Fighting Irish will face Rodgers and the U.S. squad for the second straight season at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. ... this year's game will take place at 4 p.m. (ET) on Jan. 28. - Competing in the NBA Development League are former Irish players Tory Jackson (with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants) and Russell Carter (with the Iowa Energy) ... also in the league is Joe Harden who started his career with Notre Dame but finished at Cal-Davis (he's with the Dakota Wizards). - Kevin Dugan, manager of youth and community programs in the Notre Dame department of athletics, has received a special invitation from the Republic of South Sudan Embassy to meet H.E. Salva Kiir Mayardit, president of South Sudan ... President Kiir will be in Washington, D.C., next week to meet President Barack Obama ... this will be Kiir's first visit to the USA, since South Sudan became the world's newest nation this past July ... Dugan visited South Sudan this past summer to organize a Playing for Peace basketball festival in partnership with the South Sudan Basketball Federation and the Commission for Demilitarization and Reintegration of Child Soldiers. - Patricia Bellia, chair of the University of Notre Dame's Faculty Board on Athletics and its NCAA faculty athletics representative, was the surprise recipient of an honorary monogram Friday night at the Notre Dame Football Awards Show ... Notre Dame athletics director Jack Swarbrick made the introduction and was joined in the presentation by Monogram Club executive director Beth Hunter and current Monogram Club president Dick Nussbaum ... a professor of law and Notre Dame Presidential Fellow in the Notre Dame Law School, Bellia is in her third year as the chair of the Faculty Board and the University's NCAA faculty athletics representative.
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